Border officials separated an asylum-seeker and her newborn — then called themselves heroes
A Honduran asylum-seeker who was separated from her hours-old U.S. citizen infant by border agents has been reunited with her child. The Los Angeles Times had on Friday reported that Border Patrol had ripped the mother from her baby just hours after she'd given birth in Texas. The asylum-seeker, among the thousands forced by the Trump administration to wait for their immigration court dates in Mexico, had crossed in desperation when she gave birth alone in a field.
Molly O'Toole's report said that while border officials at first transported the family to a hospital together, they then separated them and told the mother they were going to send her back to Mexico without her baby. They've since claimed the hospital's COVID-19 policy required the separation, but that's a lie. "That is definitely not the hospital policy," a University Hospital spokesperson told the LA Times. "We do not separate babies and parents."
Border officials had initially and in truly gross form used the rescue as a publicity stunt, tweeting a picture of a border agent holding the child and claiming that "[f]rom #LawEnforcement to humanitarian aid, our agents adapt to any situation." But what they didn't mention in the tweet is what happened after, when agents airlifted the baby to a neonatal ICU hours away while the mom was thrown into detention and forced to sleep on the floor. Yup, truly heroes, these agents.
"Unconscionable," tweeted humanitarian group Doctors for Camp Closure. "This isn't a 'rescue.' Separating mothers from their critically ill infants immediately after birth is inhumane." O'Toole reports that no one from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) gave her a comment prior to the report's publication, but that soon changed after it went public.
"Hours later, Austin Skero, chief patrol agent for the Del Rio sector, responded in a tweet to The Times, saying that agents had to separate the mother and baby due to the San Antonio hospital's COVID-19 policy for the neonatal unit, which the hospital immediately disputed." Spokesperson Leni Kirkman told O'Toole that the hospital has always safely allowed parents to be with their kids, even during the pandemic. "Babies need to be with their parents." We wish Border Patrol thought the same.
Instead, agency chief Rodney Scott angrily claimed in a tweet he was "sick and tired of our agents being villainized," while in the same statement dehumanizing the asylum-seeker as an "illegal alien mother." Asylum is legal immigration, guy. What you also won't hear about in any of Border Patrol's public relations tweets is that Scott was a member of the violent and racist Facebook group where members mocked the death of a child in the agency's custody. But remember, we're the bad ones for point out the bad things they do.
Nor will they mention how the Trump administration's anti-asylum policies directly led to this inhumane separation. The asylum-seeker had been waiting in Mexico with her 6-year-old child when they were kidnapped and held at gunpoint for two weeks. After that, the mother sent the child into the U.S. alone to save the child's life. That child was then taken into Health and Human Services
(HHS) custody, and has since been released to family members in California. The mother, whose name has not been publicly released, then crossed several weeks later.
O'Toole reports that the mother was reunited with her infant at the hospital's neonatal ICU over the weekend. They're now expected to join family in California once the baby is cleared for release, where'll she'll also reunite with her 6-year-old child. How much of this pain and suffering could have been avoided if administration had just allowed this family to safely seek asylum?
I am proud to represent this family with @BridgetCambria8 for @aldea_pjc. Thanks, @MackenzieLevy for taking of thi… https://t.co/dZo2Igk5Y1— Amy Maldonado 🗽 (@Amy Maldonado 🗽)1602356280.0